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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine? Does TCM Really Work Out?

Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of medicine originating from traditional Chinese culture with a documented clinical history of over 3,000 years and involves understanding the human body and the universe through concepts such as "qi" (vital energy), "yin yang" (opposing forces), "five elements," "six qi," and "twenty-four solar terms." TCM utilizes the properties of natural substances to address the individual's physical and mental health needs, as well as to treat diseases, facilitate recovery, and promote wellness.

The ealierst mecicine book in China, written in Han Dynasty and recorded 365 herbs and their uses.

At the age of "Shennong", people started to "taste" natural plants, trying varities of herb medicines in themselevs to test their effectives. These valauble clinical tests were then recorded and heritated through history to today. Many of herbs were dicovered to be effective to cure certain diseases and improve wellness. And more peculiar of some herbs were discovered to treat two diametrically opposed conditions. For example, Danggui (Angelica sinensis) can cure excessive or scanty menstruation, and Wuweizi (Schisandra chinensis) has the dual effect of elevating and lowering blood sugar, etc.

TCM views the human body as an organic whole, comprising both tangible and intangible aspects. The visible organs work in synergy to influence the balance of "qi" and blood, the intangible components, preventing illness and discomfort. When imbalances occur, illness manifests. Thus, TCM emphasizes guiding the body's mechanisms to achieve balance as a means of treatment. Therefore, instead of treating a physiological or pathological phenomenon in isolation, TCM practitioners take a dynamic approach to identify the cause of the disease and utilize the properties of natural medicines to guide the body to restore balance.

Li Shizhen (author of Bencao Gangmu) 1518 - 1593. The book recorded 1,892 herbs, and varities of diseases and herb formulas.

Does Chinese Medicine really work?

The effectivess of Chinese Medicine is well confirmed in China and other eastern countries. In other countries, particularly in the Western world, TCM is rapidly advancing and gaining recognition for its efficacy. In 2018, the World Health Organization formally acknowledged Traditional Chinese Medicine in its global medical compendium. Practices such as acupuncture and cupping are also being introduced as part of curricula in medical schools. However, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, due to variations in cultural backgrounds and regulations, is still categorized as a dietary supplement in the Western context.

Critics argue that TCM diagnosis and treatment methods, which involve personalized prescriptions and dialectical therapy, greatly differ from the standardized diagnostic and therapeutic practices of modern medicine. This divergence has led to skepticism from official medical establishments.

For instance, in treating with disease like hypertension, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) thinks that the high blood pressure is just a manifestation and indicator of changes in blood pressure within the body. The true underlying cause of high blood pressure is due to insufficient kidney and liver that obstruct the blood vessels cuased by poor lifestyle or congenital insufficiency of the liver and kidneys. Additionally, many hypertensive patients have thickened blood, further hindering smooth circulation. As the human body functions as a coordinated mechanism, high blood pressure is a compensatory response of our body to ensure the blood flow to the heart and brain, the essential organs for the body. Therefore, the key to helping patients in TCM lies in altering the body's environment, promoting blood circulation, resolving blood stasis, and enhancing the functions of the liver and kidneys. By doing so, the body's mechanisms will naturally lower blood pressure without long-term antihypertensive medication.

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